What’s My Ideology?

My brother baldly accused me of liberaltarianism recently, which led me to do something I’ve long thought about doing–taking multiple on-line ideological placement quizzes, just to see where they place me. The results may say more about the surveys than about me.

The Political Compass test has a reasonably good set of questions, although for a few I do not see the clear relation to a particular ideology (e.g., “Some people are naturally unlucky”–is it liberals, conservatives, authoritarians or libertarians who think that?). The results of this quiz rebut my brother’s claim, showing me clearly within the libertarian-right camp. Intuitively that feels too far right to me, and I’m not sure what causes it, given that I expressed support for homosexuality and opposed inculcating religious values in school. I guess it’s because I don’t hate multinationals and I think some criminals can’t be rehabilitated.

The Nolan Chart survey puts me in the centrist camp, which is probably pretty accurate (at least given how large their centrist category is), but along what would be the libertarian/conservative border if the chart was in quadrants. Again, contra my brother, I’m shown as pretty far from liberal; in fact even more conservative than the Political Compass suggests. But the Nolan Chart questions are a godawful mess, lumping different issues together and not allowing the respondent to distinguish positions clearly. For example trade and money are linked together, but I’m pro-free trade and pro-Fed, which isn’t a response option. And lumping together corporate welfare with social safety nets for individuals? At least the survey allowed me an pro-safety-net/anti-corporate-welfare response, but I’d ding any of my students who wrote such a question.

The most famous of these bipolar (sorry, couldn’t resist) quizzes is the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz, so frequently promoted by libertarians. I’ve been curious about the validity of this quiz, with it’s mere 10 questions, 5 on the social dimension and 5 on the economic dimension (which, unfortunately, is explicitly announced, creating the potential for leading the respondents), and would like to compare it to a lengthier quiz among a sample of respondents to see if it tracks a more comprehensive survey well. It certainly doesn’t comport well with the Political Compass or Nolan Chart results, but suggests my brother might be right after all. Yet I don’t think I’m that far left. The way the World’s Smallest Quiz works I’m pulled that far left because I’m so strongly civil libertarian, and I think that’s somewhat oversimplified.

Finally there’s the IDEAlog10 Survey, a quiz inspired by the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and associated with a leading American Government Textbook (not one I have ever used, though). This quiz uses a set of questions drawn from leading public opinion polling firms. It’s a good, well-written set of questions, and independent of where it places me I am inclined to view it as the most reliable of these four alternatives. This one shows me solidly in the libertarian camp, rather closer to the liberal side than the conservative side but without actually falling into the liberal quadrant. It also reveals–I think quite accurately–that I’m more inclined to sacrifice pure freedom for the sake of equality than the sake of order. If that’s an accurate definition of liberaltarianism–and I have no idea if it is or isn’t–then perhaps I am one (although I’d still refuse to use the term purely on aesthetic grounds). At the least I think it accurately reflects something I’ve said many times, that if my choice was between a country run by liberals and one run by conservatives–a choice between equality and order–I would choose the liberal one with no hesitation (and then complain about it non-stop, of course).

I’m planning on having my students take the IDEAlog10 survey, to get them to thinking about where they line up ideologically. If you all are willing, I’d be pleased if you’d take a moment to take the quiz and report whether you think it seems to accurately identify your position or not (self-reporting your position is optional).

Update: Following Christopher Carr’s suggestions.
The Center for a Stateless Society Quiz is too long, at 106 questions. I begin to experience survey fatigue at around 40 questions. And while most of their questions are good, a few are really problematic. For example, “The emergence of a government, an entity with a monopoly of force, in a given territory is inevitable,” is a bit like asking whether rape and murder are inevitable– you can’t judge their ideology very well from a “yes” answer (although a “no” answer might provide some insight into their thoughts on human perfectibility). Other questions just don’t lead to a clear ideological distinction, saying yes to the question, “There are good reasons for me to support arrangements in accordance with which people who can’t afford decent health care can obtain it anyway,” could mean either that I support a national health care system or that my religious beliefs compel me to contribute to charitable health service organizations. What I do like about it is that instead of just placing you in space (although I have an inordinate fondness for spatial designations) it breaks down along different categories (which would be harder to do with significantly fewer questions). But those categories aren’t entirely clear–what does the anarchism category mean, when abstracted from those elements that, to me, are what constitutes the anarchy continuum? But it positions me as an economic leftist? I’m not sure what the basis for that is, and it would seem to make sense only in the sense that I’m not an economic nationalist (but many left-leaning people actually are economic nationalists). And I’m not sure why I have such a low civil-libertarian score, except that I think it’s ok for parents to keep their adolescents from having sex and that I think depriving people of liberty for having committed crimes is legitimate.

Myers-Briggs: did that one long ago. I’m an INTP, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. When reading the book Please Understand Me, I can’t, in fact, understand others. The other personality types seem bizarre, almost other-wordly, to me, whereas reading about the INTP type evokes a feeling of intimate recognition. That’s not to say I admire all aspects of the INTP type–a little more ability to follow through on ideas would be nice, and the ability to just play without feeling the need to turn all play into practice would decrease frustration levels (but how can anyone not care if they are getting better at what they do?).

The Dungeons and Dragons alignment quiz defines me as “chaotic good.” Despite my minor doubts about the validity of the D&D characterizations, that actually seems rather a good characterization of me.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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29 Responses to What’s My Ideology?

  1. I see I line up with Nelson Mandela.

  2. I also recommend the Center for a Stateless Society quiz, Myers-Briggs, and the Dungeons & Dragons “What’s My Alignment?” quizes.

  3. James Hanley says:

    Phil–Not too surprised; I just hope it doesn’t mean you had to, or will have to, spend decades in prison.

  4. Lance says:

    I was bit farther towards the freedom side than you and a bit lower from the liberal side. Order 0, Equality 2.

    I am very willing to give up order for freedom. I found myself rooting for Heath Ledger’s Joker when he said,

    You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

    Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!

    Maybe I’m a bit of an anarchist at heart.

    The quiz was fairly accurate but like most of these surveys the questions seemed a bit arbitrary and with out nuance. I find myself saying “Well it depends on…” but I guess that is the nature of these things.

  5. If James K is reading, I’m apparently between Mozart and Helen Clark.

  6. James K says:

    I don’t really think of Mozart as a political thinker. Is he labelled as being close to Clark?

  7. James Hanley says:

    How the hell do we figure out Mozart (other than classifying him as a libertine)? Did he leave behind a treasure trove of writings that actually enable us to divine how he would answer these questions, or is it pulled from someone’s ass?

  8. AMW says:

    James, I’m pretty close to your score. Order: 1, Equality: 2. But the notion of “order” on the spectrum eludes me. My one “Order” deviation came because I placed myself as more pro-life. How does restriction of abortion promote order?

  9. Reason I posted the video is that I know the guy.

    To sacrifice order for liberty? To be willing to do that means you gotta be crazy out of your skull.

    There are so many examples can be given to show how stupid and naive that is.

    I’m sorry; but, that is sooooo stupid.

    You got no idea how rotten some people can be once they’ve got some power.


  10. ppnl says:

    I gave up trying to answer after six questions. The questions seem to so completely miss the point that I simply could not continue.

  11. Lance says:


    The majority of the most terrifyingly inhumane societies in history have been completely orderly.

  12. Dr X says:

    On the Political Compass Test, I’m one box down, two to the left of James. Very close. I’m also an INTP on the Myers Briggs, though over the years I’ve shifted from a moderate I to just barely an I and a strong T to a mild T. No time to take the other tests now.

  13. James Hanley says:

    Pinky, I think it’s cool that you can embed a video in a comment; I had no idea. Of course I have no idea what a reverse mortgage on the U.S. would mean, but I enjoyed it.

    As to order v. liberty, it all depends how much order and how much liberty. I don’t think anyone here is advocating so little order that there’s no authority to punish murder and theft. But the kind of order that says you can’t criticize the government is clearly too much order and not enough liberty. In fact there’s an awful lot of order that I can’t actually say I’d “sacrifice” for liberty because I don’t see giving it up as a sacrifice; rather, more of a blessing.

    Dr. X, Two boxes to the left of me? You commie! But how does being an I affect your work as a therapist?

  14. Dr X says:

    At this point I’m just barely an I, but I find one-on-one interactions very easy. I’m more of a listener than someone who needs to be heard in the face-to-face interaction. My work allows the patient to talk for long stretches or even be silent. As I listen, various hypotheses about meaning will emerge. I silently test those; that is, I listen for subsequent material that is consistent or contradictory before I offer my thoughts about what was said. I think this therapeutic style is very compatible with the I-type, but I should add that my more extroverted colleagues can see more patients day after day than I can comfortably handle. Six feels like a very full day and I haven’t felt right when I’ve had to see 8 or 9 in a day. Feh… There’s no free lunch in the psyche either.

    My understanding is that psychologists are fairly evenly divided between I and E. What is more striking is that something like 80% are Ns, a figure that is much higher than the general population.

    All of that said, I’m not much of a fan of the MBTI, but that’s a subject for another discussion.

  15. I just took IDEAlog10. I scored more or less exactly where you were, which I think is a fair placement of me. There were a few questions that I would highly qualify, such as questions concerning “amount” of regulation. “Amount” of regulation is a nonsensical concept for me. Regulation means “to keep regular”, but surely when talking about “amount” of regulation, we aren’t using this definition. Therefore, in my world food production is heavily regulated but banking is not. Someone else might think the opposite entirely.

  16. Mozart and the other composers can be found here: http://www.politicalcompass.org/composers. It is, of course, half-serious. The C4SS quiz is significantly longer than the others and thereby more accurate I think, but, ironically, since the C4SS quiz doesn’t accept the arbitrary 2-D standard of the rest of the quizzes, it is perhaps doomed to obscurity. I was pretty far to the left on all of the axes there, which I think defines me well. James, the economic axes I believe is heavily based on corporatism, so “libertarians” who do not support special privileges for the corpse would find themselves on the left. My Myers-Briggs type is ENTJ, but I think I’ve become more of an I since having kids in the sense that I derive energy from being alone. My J score is also relatively low, but N and T are definitely not in doubt. I am also chaotic good in D&D parlance.

  17. I did the test again and came up this time on Ghandi.

    Economic Left/Right: -7.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.23

  18. Matty says:

    I dislike the word ideology which to me smacks of a religious like devotion to a fixed set of ideas but anyway here goes.

    Political compass
    Some questions I’m not too happy with, for example
    “A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.” To which the answer is obviously yes, a one party system avoids the problems of a democratic system, it has its own problems that are worse but that isn’t what the question asks. I guess I have to put no or be marked down as in favour of dictatorship but I think the question is badly put.

    Economic Left/Right: -0.12
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.79

    This looks about right, I’m a pretty strong civil libertarian but either a lot more fuzzy on economic issues, which I would expect to show me as an undecided centrist.

    Nolan chart

    I sit exactly on the corner wher liberal, libertarian and centrist meet, which sounds roughly right.

    Worlds Smallest
    PERSONAL issues Score is 100%
    ECONOMIC issues Score is 40%


    Squarely in the liberal sector, hard up against the left wall

    CSS etc
    Sorry but I do have other things to do today

    Overall not to far from where I would place myself but as always lacking the chance to explain my answers I’m going to line up with peope I don’t actually agree with.

  19. James Hanley says:

    A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.”

    I hated that question, too. Empirically, yes that is a significant advantage of a one-party state. I can’t honestly say “no,” but saying “yes” adds “authoritarian” points to my score. So at that point I’m already thinking about how to answer so as to game the results, which is the last thing you want survey respondents doing.

  20. DensityDuck says:

    ” “The emergence of a government, an entity with a monopoly of force, in a given territory is inevitable,” is a bit like asking whether rape and murder are inevitable– you can’t judge their ideology very well from a “yes” answer…”

    One of the axes in that particular test is “anarchist/statist”, and that question identifies the core difference between the two.

  21. James Hanley says:

    No, it doesn’t. Anarchist/statist is a normative distinction. Whether government is inevitable is an empirical distinction. Your response is like saying that the answer to the question of whether rape and murder are inevitable is identifies the core difference between rapists/murders and non-rapists/murderers. There are a hell of a lot of things in this world that are both undesirable and inevitable–saying they’re inevitable does not mean you favor them.

    That’s not really such a hard concept; I’m surprised you are having a hard time with it.

  22. But I think it does speak to the question of whether anarchy is even workable. Personally, I find a lot of the ideas of anarchy attractive, but I’m not sure it’s workable. Some other state-like power might emerge that’s worse than the present one.

  23. James Hanley says:

    My take is that anarchy is a disequilibrium. Perhaps not all humans love power, but there are enough that do that in any case of a power vacuum one or more of those people will compete to fill that space. It may not be absolutely inevitable (James Scott’s work on Zomia suggests that in specific conditions–basically, living in a hardscrabble nearly-inacessible region–a stateless society might be possible. But notably, anarchy seems to require such a special condition to be feasible. And of course it’s only a technological condition–that is, sufficient technology could overcome it.

  24. Anarchy via technology is a pretty mind-blowing concept. I’m definitely interested in the post-scarcity aspects of the Internet.

  25. DensityDuck says:

    “Whether government is inevitable is an empirical distinction.”
    you think.  And I’m sure you have lots of good reasons, carefully crafted and supported with evidence, for thinking so.  But the anarchist would disagree, and (if they’re worth taking seriously) would also have lots of good reasons for thinking what they do.

    Your answer to the question is “yes”. Why you think it’s “yes” doesn’t matter. That you think “no” is literally impossible doesn’t matter. The question doesn’t care why you think that.  It only cares whether you think that.
    And having a statist philosophy doesn’t mean that you prefer any of the states currently in existence.  It just means that you believe that human society benefits from a codified structure for relations and interactions, and that the mere fact of existence constitutes consent to act according to that structure.  (As opposed to the anarchist view that each human interaction is a separate event whose parameters must be negotiated independently of any others, and that the default state for interaction is that I can do anything you cannot physically prevent me from doing.)
    Allow me to restate the question, if that helps, although someone as super-smart as you clearly doesn’t need anyone’s help for anything.  The question, put differently:  “Given a group of people with a common interest, is it inevitable that they will organize themselves into a heirarchy, with some members having the ability to compel certain behaviors in other members?”

  26. James Hanley says:


    No, you’ve still got it wrong. Yes, I believe as an empirical matter that governments are inevitable, and anarchists believe as an empirical matter that they are not. But these opposing claims are both empirical, not normative. I’m surprised you don’t know the old “can’t get an ought from an is” point of logic (see naturalistic fallacy).

    So it’s entirely consistent, as a logical matter, to normatively prefer anarchy but think that empirically it can’t be attained; and just as consistent when turned around, to oppose anarchy normatively, but to think that empirically it can be attained.

    So, no, one doesn’t have to be a statist to think government is inevitable anymore than one has to be a sexual predator to think that rape is inevitable. This is a really basic point of logic taught in all introductory logic classes. Unfortunately it’s a point that’s a mystery to many people engaged in political debate, which is one of the reasons political debate in the U.S. is conducted at such a low level.

    The answer to your restated question is, in my opinion, yes</i?, but that doesn't mean that I want that to happen. It doesn’t take super-smarts to understand the distinction there.

  27. DensityDuck says:

    “The answer to your restated question is, in my opinion, yes…”

    How can you say you aren’t a statist when you believe that a monopoly of force and a heirarchical structure will inevitably develop in a society? It’s like an atheist saying he believes that a supreme deity created the world and is involved with it.

    That you insist that non-statism is desirable but states are inevitable is exactly the kind of cognitive dissonance that the test in question is trying to identify.

  28. James Hanley says:

    How can you say you aren’t a statist when you believe that a monopoly of force and a heirarchical structure will inevitably develop in a society?

    I’ve answered that twice already. It’s the distinction between a normative claim and an empirical claim, and you are mangling the two together.

    Your question has exactly the same form and as much sense as, “How can you say you aren’t a proponent of rape when you believe that rape will inevitably develop in a society,” or “How can you say you don’t like death when you believe that death will inevitably occur,” or “How can you say you don’t support hurricanes when you believe that hurricanes will inevitably happen”?

    How can I get you to understand that thinking something will happen does not mean you want it to happen?

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